WWYDW: Let’s Talk Garret Sparks

We’re only a few hours away from Garret Sparks’ 16th start of the season (and 16th of his young career). He’s never been a can’t-miss goaltending prospect, but Sparks’ career started off strong with a shutout victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Since then, his play has been up, down, and ultimately below average. Sparks carries an .897 SV% through 15 games played.

It might not be fair to expect a lot out of a 22-year old drafted in the seventh-round, but Sparks posted solid numbers in the OHL, ECHL and AHL before debuting this year. 15 games is not exactly a significant sample size, but the Leafs won’t have much more to go on before they have to make a decision on their goaltending situation this summer. Sparks is an RFA in just a few months, and while Jonathan Bernier has one more year remaining on his deal, I have a hard time believing that Toronto will want to run with this tandem next season. 

That brings us to this week’s WWYDW question – what would you do with Garret Sparks? 

Do you think that, despite the numbers, he’s earned an NHL job for next season? Do you think he’s best returned to the AHL for more seasoning (and how do you split the workload between him, Antoine Bibeau and Kasimir Kaskisuo)? Have you seen enough and are simply ready to walk away from Sparks altogether?

Let us know in the comments below. Whoever gets the most thumbs up gets to start in net on the Leafs’ upcoming roadtrip.

  • It’s doubtful he’ll ever be a league average starter capable of 50 games, so whether you string him along for another year when there’s a better shot at acquiring goaltending depth or whether you dump him now, it’s pretty much all the same to me. All things being equal, I’d rather move onto the next goalie sooner rather than later.

  • tank nation says keep playing him! every leafs goalie rent now is a wild card and inconsistent. none are in the long term plans. they’ll be gone soon enough and none are #1 goalies: bernier, sparks or bibeau. maybe one can be a solid back up. meanwhile chris gibson just won his first nhl game to clinch the islanders playoff spot… I think he may have the higher ceiling than any of the current leafs goalies as a solid back up… grabner’s 17 points was well worth it though.

  • Honestly, if you’re going to bring him back it shouldn’t me more than a one year deal. Let him accept the QO and run him with the Marlies again next year while you build the organizational depth. That said, walking away makes all kinds of sense.

  • In a perfect world, Bernier gets moved, Reimer comes back through free agency. That way you have a clear starter and backup on the team. Gives sparks a chance to learn under a goalie he respects. Could be a recipe for successful deployment.

  • Sparks is 22 year old.
    Bibeau is 21 years old
    Kasimir is 22 years old

    First off Sparks is still a young prospect. And I think we should be careful of dismissing Sparks based on such a small sample of games. Also we have to be careful if we think these two lesser knowns (bibeau, kasimir) will turn into anything better then a more proven sparks who has played games at the NHL level.

    That said, we need a a better prospect then Sparks, Bibeau or Kasimir in the system as those three are likely more closer in talent levels with backup goalie upside then starters.

    As for what to do for Sparks, I think the question depends on who you rate bibeau/kasimir (and any other goalie prospect). If sparks has the most upside then he has value. I don’t know the answer

  • Harte of a Lion

    The Leafs will draft a goalie this year, possibly in the 2nd round and look to grab someone Before expansion in 2017/18 when teams can only protect one goaltender. Most GM’s would rather recoup some assets via a trade than lose a decent goalie for nothing.. e.g. If Tampa re ups Bishop, then they risk losing Vasilevski in the expansion draft. If they decide Vasilevski is the answer after next season, Bishop will be a free agent. When you consider the cap crunch Tampa will have next season, they might need to move Bishop as well as find a taker for Matt Carle so they can sign Stamkos and their 4 rfa’s. Callahan sure looks like a lousy signing now Mr. Y. Sorta makes Bozak’s contract less disgraceful.

    There is nothing wrong with paying a star goalie 6M per if your ready to compete and I believe my Maple Leafs will be playoff bound in 2017/18…put Bishop between the pipes next year and the Leafs might be well coached enough to land a wildcard spot.

    Remember Cujo and Belfor? 2 free agents that were great and helped average teams overachieve.
    Grant Fuhr came to the Leafs via trade and he was a pretty good goaltender… Not every trade brings a Jonathan Bernier.

    Who knows, maybe Kasmir Kaskisuo will have more Rask than Pogge in him. He is Finnish after all.

  • Why are a lot of Leaf fans so harsh on this guy? Check his hockeydb stats and Sparks has comparable and better stats than Reimer had at this stage of his career – including CHL and PRO hockey. Taking a small sample – In 30 plus games in his second season (2011/12) Reimer’s stats were 3.10 ga and .900 sv%. In 3o plus games in 2014/15 3.16 ga and .907 sv%. Sparks – after only 15 games in 2016 has a 2.81 ga and .897 sv%. Reimer also played on a team with arguably better talent- just check the rosters. This guy is young and has a great future. Instead, let’s build up his confidence and continue to develop his skill base. He wants it more than any of us know and he is an extremely dedicated young man. Sit back and chill ya’ll.

    • I think Bernie is right. We can’t judge a goalie when the team in front of him was full of players chosen for the express purpose of tanking, throw ins from other deals, or prospects not yet ready for the NHL.

      He’s an rfa with bad nhl numbers, resign him for 1 year 9n a cheap deal and see what he can do when the team is better.

    • Harte of a Lion

      Sparks is the same type of goalie as Riemer. They are both full of effort but lack any kind of puck control. These guys could be book ends and no matter how you slice or dice it . the results will be the same.

      • Gary Empey

        Sparks is 22yrs old! It’s way too early to make judgement – for ANY goalie. Look at the history of goaltenders and how long it takes to achieve success. Most good goaltenders are in their mid to late 20’s and early 30’s. It would be so easy to give up on him and regret it later. Let’s at least see him on the Marlie’s playoff run and then re-assess. Give him a summer of development and see how he does in training camp. One step at a time.

      • magesticRAGE

        He is similar to Reimer, but not the same. The impressive thing about Reimer is that he looks better every year, regardless of his record. He has improved his glove hand, he’s more upright, his positioning is better, sees the puck better, increased rebound control, all the while bringing the effort in his acrobatic style.
        Sparks is too scrambly, swimming on his belly too much. He struggles to control pucks, and his 5-hole is too exposed. He needs to train with Reimer, it really helped. Saying all that, they should hold on to him for another season, then decide.
        Next season though, I’d audition Bibeau for the backup role.

        • “The impressive thing about Reimer is that he looks better every year”
          EXACTLY. Reimer has played in over 200 NHL games over 6 full seasons. Sparks has played in 16 NHL games over one quarter of a season!
          Give the guy a chance with a roster stable team. Look at how much better Reimer has looked with a solid stable roster. We have traded away too many good assets in the past too early in their careers – look at the history books-
          RASK, CARLYLE, STEEN, COLBORNE,…only to mention a few – to regret it later. CHILL MAN!

  • Harte of a Lion

    Sparks, Bibeau and Kaskisuo will determine their places within the AHL and ECHL, with the latter most likely being the Solar Bears goaltender.

    Sparks isn’t far enough along to be a full-time backup, he needs to play in order to develop. Certainly not a starter in the NHL.

    Bernier also needs a chance to run with the ball full-time, regardless how he plays, so we can determine where his future is with this organization.

    With all the UFA goaltending depth we can find someone to play behind Bernier who won’t be hurt long-term by sitting most of the season

  • Gary Empey

    This is a very young team and right now there is a lot of mistakes being made in front of Sparks.He will do fine if we get some size and mobility on the defense.Without a solid defensive core the goalie will be basically on his own.

  • This is a squadron where goalie prospects come to die…right now.

    I fear for young Garrett as he is our current sacrificial lamb in the quest for the bottom. He will likely be chewed up again next year and spat out, leaving the others in the system to reap the benefits of (hopefully) a rehabilitated team gunning for better things than a first overall pick.

    Seems like an OK goalie but impossible to judge with the garbage team. Reimer’s success in San Jose should tell you a lot about the men in front of the Leafs goaltenders.